The Philadelphia-Delaware Valley chapter of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (translation: Gathering of Musicians in Ireland) carried on a long tradition Wednesday night, holding its 19th annual Wren Party.
The event commemorates the Irish custom of the Wren Boys—ragtag bands of townsmen in motley attire who went door to door playing tunes, dancing and singing songs, all in hopes of collecting money for a community party or dance.
In the early days, they mounted a dead wren on a stick. December 26 is the feast of early Christian martyr St. Stephen, whose hiding place in a bush was given away by the chattering of a wren. Or so legend has it. Hence, the sacrifice of one of those small birds.
That grisly last part of the tradition faded away—thank goodness—a long time ago.
The local Comhaltas chapter commemorated the feast of St. Stephen with a big party at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Glenside, with lots of traditional Irish music, dance, holiday treats—and a wren hat parade.
We have pictures from the night’s merriment. Check them out.
If you couldn’t catch Cherish the Ladies and singer Don Stiffe in their Celtic Christmas show at the Philadelphia Irish Center, we have the next best thing: a boatload of photos!
The longtime and well-loved Irish supergroup performed to a packed house. They had a great time, too—so much that they’ve promised to come back again and wow the audience with their Christmas show next year.
Take a look at our photos. Consider them an early Christmas present.
We have a couple of videos, too.
Local traditional Irish musician and photographer Bob Glennan took in the Celtic Christmas show featuring Cherish the Ladies and singer Don Stiffe at the Philadelphia Irish Center Saturday night. Fortunately for us, he brought his camera.
He provided this great set of pics. Take a look.
There was a whole lot of love in the ballroom of the Commodore John Barry Arts & Cultural Center Sunday night. A full house of friends and family members joined in honoring the 2018 Delaware Valley Irish Hall of Fame awardees Sunday night.
Honorees included irishphiladelphia.com co-founder Denise Foley, Pearse Kerr, whose lifetime experience included a stint in British custody during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and Sister Frances Kirk, SSJ, renowned as the Delaware Valley chairperson and organizer of Project Children, a program that provided a summer holiday in the United States. away from those aforementioned Troubles for literals thousands of Catholic and Protestant kids.
The Sharpie-written notes on the “Banner of Hope” offered the answer to the question, “Why did you get up at 3 in the morning to do a 5K in the rain?”
“In loving memory of my dear Lori. Love you. This one’s for you.”
“In memory of Paddy, Love, Brigid.”
“Missing you always!” This tiny message appeared under a drawing of a yellow butterfly whose artist added a smudge of orange and two tiny antennae with care.
Some left lists of names; Sinead. Johnny. Keiran. Wee Pat. Eddie.
All of them, messages to people who died by their own hand.
More than 250 people gathered outside Lloyd Hall on Kelly Drive at the top of Boathouse Row starting at 3 AM last Saturday to participate in the “Darkness Into Light” 5K to benefit Pieta House, an Irish organization that provides free counseling to those considering suicide or self-harm. Fox29’s Bob Kelly hosted the opening ceremonies and helped rally the runners and walkers who were already soaked by the persistent drizzle.
With solemn ceremony and rousing speeches, Philadelphia’s Irish community celebrated the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising on Sunday, April 24, the lost battle that led to the ultimate victory of Irish independence.
The event started in the blazing sunshine at The Irish Memorial, where a number of local dignitaries, including State Rep. Mike Driscoll and Philadelphia City Councilman Bobby Henon spoke. Using only an index card for reference, Irish-born Patsy Kelly, told the history of the uprising, in which about 1200 armed Irish men and women seized buildings in Dublin, launched by the reading of The Proclamation by Irish teacher Padraig Pearse.
That document, which proclaimed Ireland a free republic belonging to the Irish people, was read later at Independence Hall, first in English by Regina Mullen Bocchino and Dierdre Mullen, the granddaughters of Joseph McGarrity, a Philadelphia-based businessman from Tyrone who was considered the financier of the rebellion, and then in Irish by Temple University cardiologist Brian O Murchu, MD.
Longtime Philadelphia Ceili Group member Jim McGill shared an old program with Mick Moloney before his concert with Robbie O’Connell and Jimmy Keane Saturday night at the Philadelphia Irish Center/Commodore Barry Club.
I didn’t get a look at it, but it was from the first time Mick played at the center, many years ago. It was a photo, of course, of a much younger and bushier Mick Moloney. O’Connell had a look at it and he drew laughs from the audience when he described Moloney as looking like “Sasquatch with a banjo.”
That’s kind of how the evening went. A concert with these three masters of the trade is an informal affair. They all had stories to tell—moonshine and the Tennessee World’s Fair figured prominently in one particularly quirky tale—and even though the three of them were up on stage in the bright lights and the rest of us were sitting in the ballroom in the dark, it felt like a much smaller room, with friends sharing gossip, a few well-worn tunes and a drink or two.
Better to show you than to tell you. So what we have is three videos and a small collection of photos from the concert. Hope you like them.
The 26-year-old executive director of a Philadelphia nonprofit serving homeless veterans was crowned the 2016 Philadelphia Rose of Tralee on Saturday night at the Radnor Hotel. The event was emceed by CBS3 consumer reporter Jim Donovan.
The latest Rose, Brigid Gallagher, has the inside scoop on what she’s in for this year. Her older sister, Colleen, was the 2007 Philly Rose. The two wrote and illustrated a children’s book and, along with running the Philadelphia Veterans’ House, Brigid Gallagher is completing her masters of art therapy and counseling at Drexel University. A graduate of West Chester University with a degree in graphic design and psychology, The new Rose is a marathoner and one of the newest members of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, the oldest Irish organization in the US, located in Philadelphia, which recently opened its membership to women.
Brigid is the middle sister of seven girls—so there may be more Gallagher Roses to come.